4 years ago we had to beat Great Britain for the chance to medal. This time around we have to beat Honduras. It sounds much easier on paper but it’s not quite the case. It’s a good thing we avoided Portugal, because we usually struggle against teams that can out-pass us, but Honduras is no pushover either. As Tim eloquently put it, while we are going “YES Honduras!” the Honduras team will be going “YES South Korea!”
If we had been a more convincing in the group stage, playing our brand of free-flowing, passing-oriented, storm-the-box attack, I would be much more confident about this game. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite look like ourselves, especially against Mexico, where we had absolutely 0 midfield presence. If the Korea that played against Mexico shows up against Honduras, we are dead meat. If our usual self shows up, this is a more than winnable game.
We’ve played Honduras before and drew 2-2. The lineup was as follows:
A slightly odd selection from Shin Tae Yong – we had never used a flat 4-4-2 before. Moreover, I wonder what he was trying to test out with Lee Chan Dong and Kim Min Tae as the two CMs – isn’t that just doomed from the start?
Perhaps it was due to the lineup, but the Honduras friendly was probably by far the worst pre-Olympic friendly to date. Absolutely nothing went well – we conceded two goals due to some embarrassing ball watching – but sort of like this past game vs. Mexico we somehow scored (late) thanks to Kim Hyun and Park In Hyeok. The midfield was completely overrun, and the aforementioned duo were beyond terrible. In many ways we sort of played like Honduras without Honduras’s strengths – kick the ball upfield whenever you get possession but lacking in physicality to retain possession on the ball. And of course, the strike duo missed a lot of good chances, but then again, our first choice strikers also miss a lot…
That being said, there was logic to the 4-4-2. Honduras is known for being weak in the air, so we actually tried to cross a lot with PIH and KH as the two targetmen (not a bad idea).
The highlights illustrate pretty well what I’ve been talking about thus far.
When I think of Honduras the first thing I think of is fouls. They foul a ton. They have 54 so far, or an average of 18 fouls per game. Mexico fouled us 16 times last time, and that felt like a lot. Therefore, our midfielders are going to play an extremely important role this game – we’re going to have to move the ball a lot to 1) make them run and 2) prevent a break, because our midfielders are awfully prone to losing possession.
Speaking of which, the fullbacks are even worse in that regard, and unfortunately, one of the two main Honduran dangermen is right winger Elis. Last time we played Seo Young Jae but this time it’s a badly out of form Shim Sang Min. If SSM keeps losing the ball and conceding turnovers in our half, we’re going to have a really bad time. I expect SHM to track back a lot and PYW to drift left to cover. But if PYW drifts too much we’re going to run into trouble because the second dangerman is their CF Lozano, who had a lot of fun against Song Ju Hoon and Hong Jun Ho (Hong unfortunately never played for the U23 team again).
Honduras lined up against us in their usual 3-4-3 or 5-4-1 hybrid. They’ve been using almost the exact same squad in the tournament, rotated very little, and will probably rotate very little against us. Based on the fact that they’ve only fielded 13 different players in their three starting XI’s thus far, Tim predicts the following:
Fortunately, there was an interview released by Jang Hyun Soo and Jung Seung Hyun where they talk about Honduras. They are very aware of what kind of team Honduras is. However, the great limiting factor here could be fatigue, compounded by the fact that the Olympics makes you play a game every three days. Fatigue has, on multiple occasions, been the KNT’s downfall. Honduras played essentially the same XI for three games and they seemed fine vs. Argentina. I would like to think we have the much higher levels of motivation with military exemption on the line. Certainly the players will be motivated to “run one extra step than their opponents” (to roughly translate a very commonly used Korean phrase), but will it be enough against the brute force of the Honduran players?
Our starting lineup: it’s very complicated. The general consensus was:
1) SHJ or HHC have a 50-50 chance. Tim suggested that HHC simply does not tire, and that STY plays these sorts of mind games, sort of like when we said Kim Shin Wook was fit to start against NK but actually came on late in the game. But, if Honduras are indeed weak in the air, SHJ is the more logical choice. That being said, we also don’t score very many goals from crosses into the box, so while we MIGHT see a 4-4-2, I personally forsee yet another 4-2-3-1.
2) The midfield is going to be so important. Lee Chang Min / MCJ will probably get wrecked by the Honduran physicality, so we were thinking that Lee Chan Dong – Park Yong Woo might be the best option, assuming a 4-2-3-1 that is.
3) We will probably see the same backline again, despite calls for SSM to be benched. Because the only possible player who can replace him is JHS, maybe Park Dong Jin. And PDJ doesn’t look like he’s going to get any minutes at the moment.
Make sure to either catch the game live or follow the Tavern twitter for what might be a career-defining game for these players!